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Cirrus bows out of Columbia bidding
Cirrus bows out of Columbia bidding

Cirrus Design Corp. will not bid on the assets of bankrupt Columbia Aircraft, Cirrus´ chairman said Tuesday.

"It was a tough decision for us," said Alan Klapmeier, also a co-founder of the Minnesota-based manufacturer.

Cirrus would have been bidding against Cessna Aircraft, which signed a purchase and sale agreement for the company last month.

Aircraft composite materials producer Park Electrochemical Corp. also has expressed interest in Columbia. And investment firm Versa Capital Management has filed objections to the bidding process.

Bids were due Tuesday. The auction will be Nov. 27.

"This is all part of the process, and it´s a process we said we´re going to follow through its conclusion," said Cessna spokesman Doug Oliver.

Klapmeier, however, said it was more important to devote Cirrus resources to existing projects, such as the jet it is developing.

After visiting Columbia´s plant in Bend, Ore., he said there is clearly a market for Columbia´s two models of high-performance, single-engine piston aircraft.

But the money needed to fix Columbia´s problems, increase production and properly take care of customers will be substantial, he said. He also estimates the cost of warranty claims will be double that of current projections.

"Clearly Cessna will be able to fix those problems," he said. But "it´s going to cost them a lot of money."

Cessna has agreed to buy Columbia´s assets for an estimated $ 24.5 million -- $ 16 million in cash and the assumption of about $ 8.5 million in liabilities -- according to the agreement filed with the bankruptcy court.

The court also approved Cessna´s request for a 0,000 break-up fee should it not emerge the successful buyer.

Cessna has said it will keep the company in Bend if it is the successful buyer.

Columbia, which employs more than 400 people, filed for bankruptcy protection in September.

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